March 27, 2004

Postrel on Teachers

In her New York Times column, Virginia Postrel points to some interesting studies about Getting the Most Out of the Nation's Teachers.

One study she cites, "Pulled Away or Pushed Out? Explaining the Decline of Teacher Aptitude in the United States" [PDF], attempts to explain why teacher aptitude, i.e. "teachers' propensity to be in the top achievement quartile" of academic aptitude, has fallen so much since 1960. The study examines two explanations: 1) that better opportunities and pay parity in other fields have siphoned off the best and brightest and 2) the compressed salary ranges due to increased unionization have led to equal pay regardless of merit, pushing the best out of teaching. The results? The compressed salaries can, surprisingly, explain 80% of the change in teacher aptitude (as measured by test score proxies).

While I obviously can't vouch for the econometric methodology, interesting results nonetheless.

The economist cited, Caroline Hoxby from Harvard, has a web page listing her other papers on education policy and funding, several of which are equally interesting.

Posted by richard at 02:56 PM | Comments (0)

January 31, 2004

Good compromise

Faced with a contentious issue, Georgia makes a sensible compromise:

Superintendent Kathy Cox said the concept of evolution would still be taught under the proposal, but the word would not be used.

You see, it turns out that evolution is just a "buzzword". Sure, this new proposal is not making everyone happy:
"Here we are, saying we have to improve standards and improve education, and we're just throwing a bone to the conservatives with total disregard to what scientists say," said state Rep. Bob Holmes, a Democrat.


"If you're teaching the concept without the word, what's the point?" said Rep. Bobby Franklin, a Republican. "It's stupid. It's like teaching gravity without using the word gravity."

But in furthering the main goal of public schools, i.e. not offending anyone, it's clearly a step in the right direction....

Posted by richard at 01:05 PM | Comments (1)